Sunday, February 05, 2006

political cartoon

There's nothing comedic about the international reaction to the Jyllands-Posten charicatures of Muhammed. Kudos to Wikipedia for republishing the images. Unfortunately, it looks like copyright issues required them to only display a low-res image where you can't read the text on all the frames. Yesterday, I could view them in detail.

I come down heavily on the side of free speech on this one.

Two things especially bug me:
1) The original context of the cartoons. There were twelve cartoons regarding Mohammed and Muslims to accompany a thoughtful, honest article about the difficulties of self-censorship, freedom of speech, and fears about retaliation in a climate of "Islamophobia." The cartoonists were not only satirizing radical Islam, they were satirizing themselves. If I remember correctly, one even said, "Relax, guys, this was just drawn by a Dane in South Denmark."

2) The hyperbolic, violent reactions. This is the same religious fanaticism that made Salmon Rushdie's life a living hell. Why are they honestly so upset about one guy's opinion halfway across the world? So upset that they're willing to set fire to embassies and call for the author's death.

Admittedly, this isn't a perfectly cut-and-dry situation. Should cartoons be allowed to publish racist, intolerant, bigoted cartoons? My opinion: yes, at the discretion of their editors and publications, remaining accountable to their readers. Sometimes it means a paper drops The Boondocks because they want to avoid controversy or a company like Abercrombie pulls a line of dumb-girl slogan t-shirts due to a "girlcot." So be it: the beauty of a free, market economy.

"Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -B. Franklin


Blogger Old Man Rich said...

I rather liked the comment from the New york times guy when asked if they were not publishing the cartoons because they were scared of the reaction & shouldn't they stand up for freedom of expression. His response was along the lines of: Its not about freedom of speech. Its about taste. we're free to publish these cartoons. were also free to put nude women on page three. We don't. Its tastless.

The cartoons are offensive to many and also pretty much without any artistic or humerous value. Let's face it, they were just bad cartoons. However, the reaction of certain extremists (I hesitate to call them muslims as much as I hesite to call the KKK christians) has ensured there global publication rather than as a minor feature in a small Danish paper. I think they shouldnt have appeared in the first place. Just because you are free to do something doesnt make it sensible or right. But the protests and embassy burnings are a response out of all proportion. How would these nutters react if we started bombing their public transport system in the name of atheism?

hmm.. starting to rant...

10:31 PM  
Blogger Stormmaster said...

The world is getting more crazy every day this year. I wonder where it will end?

If it only were as easy to induce a worldwide peace movement by publishing a single cartoon.

1:32 AM  
Blogger Muslim said...

I really was upset about the cartoons. Why make such cartoons when they are infactual and false?

If people really read about the prophet peace be upon him they would realise he was a mercy to mankind.

Moreover, as Muslims we aren't allowed to draw pictures of Prophets, furthermore, we aren't meant to disrespect someone elses religion. We respect all prophets, Moses, Abraham, Jesus, so why not respect our dear Prophet?

2:15 AM  
Blogger Stormmaster said...

It's everybody's right to be upset, and it's everybody's right to use every *legal* action to get an excuse or compensation if anybody's feelings were harmed.
But burning embassies and threatening people's lives is not helping the resolution of the matter and is way out of proportion.

4:41 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

OMR: This is quickly becoming a matter not of taste but historical import. That said, I think the approach most news organizations have taken--by describing the images pretty accurately, without actually showing them--makes sense.

Rich & Stormmaster: Agreed.

Muslim: Political cartoons are rarely factual and accurate. That doesn't excuse them, it's just the nature of satire (and in some cases, bad taste). I don't buy the argument that the primary offense is the fact that someone deigned to illustrate the Prophet. One religion can't expect every person in every country of the world to follow their practices. For example, it might be offensive to Muslim men to see a woman without a hijab, but I don't plan on donning one any time soon.

Some of these pictures were offensive. It's the violent reaction that has me in such a tizzy.

5:10 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

p.s. Thanks all for comments.

5:10 AM  
Blogger James said...

Gypsy Scholar received an almost identical comment from Muslim and wrote a very thoughtful response. Worth checking out if you haven't already. One of his key points is that Muslims have been drawing the prophet for hundreds of years. Interesting stuff.

6:21 AM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

I think you know I'm with you here!

7:05 AM  
Blogger mal said...

The hypocrisy of the situation boggles my mind. Are these not the same people who ridicule western value systems?

Any society that fears open expression must fear that their own beliefs will not stand the full light of scrutiny.

We should be afraid, very afraid

9:20 AM  
Blogger Notsocranky Yankee said...

I think any violence in the name of religion is hypocritical. They are validating the cartoons by their actions.

As everybody is saying, the response is way out of proportion. The cartoons were tasteless, but certainly not lets-burn-down-their-embassy tasteless.

Oh, and I admit that I chuckled a bit when I saw the one with Muhammad on a cloud telling the suicide bombers, "Stop, stop, we have run out of virgins!"

10:09 AM  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I'm going to blog on this, I've been away...

12:49 PM  

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